When a young couple in the Greater Houston, Texas area decided to convert their backyard into an intimate entertainment space for friends and family, they requested a simple poolscape.
Their home, which is in an exclusive gated community of Friendswood, rests on a one-acre tract that contained nothing more than the routine beds of plantings they had installed when they moved in.
They commissioned Tipton Spires Design/Build, a one-stop, two-decade-old company based in Houston and Galveston that works with a select group of custom builders, to transform a small portion of the property into a relaxing water-centric space where their young children can play and where the adults can gather and socialize.
Cory Stanley, Tipton Spires designer, created a pool, spa, and pavilion space so architecturally in sync with their 5,200-square-foot stone and stucco modern/traditional house that it looks as though it has always been on the property.
The project, which is featured in the PebbleTec book of contest winners, “World’s Greatest Pools,” and has won other numerous awards, including the 2019 international PHTA Silver Award of Excellence in the 600-square-feet-or-less category, incorporates a variety of Pentair products.
“We use Pentair because they are the best in the business, and they provide an incredible industry-leading warranty and service,” Stanley says.
One of the more dramatic features of the project is the Pentair IntelliBrite 5G LED color-changing pool lights, which allow the owners to create custom color combinations at the touch of an app.
“You can program the lights to have multiple color combinations,” he says. “There are some standard color combinations like Sunset and Fourth of July, but you also can mix your own custom colors.”
Stanley’s sublime design relies upon symmetry, simplicity, and Pentair solutions.
“When you open the double glass and iron doors at the front of the house, you can see the pool in the back,” he says. “The swimming pool, which was sited vertically to maintain the symmetry, doubles as a reflecting pool when the water features are turned off. It’s like a sheet of glass – so much that you can see the yard’s Italian cypress trees and structure reflections in it.”
The pool, whose finish is PebbleTec’s black onyx Pebble Sheen, features, in its center, a 7-foot-square vanishing-edge, nine-jet spa finished in a custom glass tile whose color has an orange-red glow that matches the cedar-timber detailing on the home’s lanai and pool pavilion.
The vanishing-edge island spa, which Stanley calls a “hot-ticket item” in poolscapes, is designed to look as though it disappears into the pool, which has pair of shelf bubblers and a quartet of deck jets that were installed so the children can have fun running through them.
The pumps that control the jets – Pentair’s IntelliFlo Variable Speed VS+ – were selected, he says, because the brand has “impeccable service and in the rare event we get a bad piece of equipment, they’re on top of it.”
The Pentair mechanicals, notably the Bioshield UV Sanitizer®, the Prowler® 910 Robotic Cleaner, and the IntelliFlo® Variable Speed VS+ circulation system, were chosen, according to Stanly, because they are durable and dependable as well as energy efficient and environmentally friendly.
The pavilion is the entertainment center of the poolscape. Made of stucco and the same stone and cedar beams as the house, it mirrors the architecture of the lanai at the back of the house.
“Because the house was a new build, we had access to the same materials that were used in its construction,” Stanley says. “The vaulted cedar tongue-and-groove ceilng was stained to match that of the house, and we put 36-inch-high chopped leuder stone bases on the stucco columns to reference the front façade of the house.”
Its focal point is the remoted-controlled stainless steel gas fireplace set in a stone chimney that has a flat-screen TV viewable from the lounge chairs of the pavilion as well as the stools of the swim-up bar and the spa.
“The client likes to have cocktail parties with her girlfriends, where they watch their shows and sip wine,” Stanley says.
The pavilion also has a full summer kitchen, complete with a refrigerator and barbecue grill. In addition, there’s a hammock and a porch swing for those lazy Sunday afternoons.
“We wanted it to feel like an extension of the house,” Stanley says.
The A-frame-roofed pavilion and lanai are linked by the pool/spa combo and are connected on the sides via travertine stepping stones defined by clumps of mondo grass. The existing patio also was repaved in travertine to create a seamless space.
The owners, Stanley says, are thrilled with the poolscape and “super excited that it has won so many awards.”
Photos by Cory Stanley, Tipton Spires Design/Build